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NFL Season Win Total
Houston under 8 -115

BEST LINESPinnacle u8½ -117 Bet365 u8½ -115 SportsInteraction u8½ -135 5DIMES u8½ -110

Posted on Sept 5 

Houston under 8½ -115

This might be the best under we’ve seen in the past 30 years. The 2016 Texans won their division, which influences the number this year and provides us with this outstanding opportunity. The 2016 Texans were about as bad as a division winner can get. Consider that they ranked a lowly 29th in DVOA, (a relevant metric that measures defense adjusted value over average) safely sandwiched between two teams that fired their coaches, the San Francisco 49ers and Los Angeles Rams. This was a bad team that won some games.

The Texans joined the privileged ranks of those teams that posted a winning record while being outscored over the season. Houston posted the fourth-worst point differential for a team with a winning record since 1989, and things don't often go well for teams in that bracket. The 10 winning teams with the worst point differentials declined by an average of three wins the following season.

Those numbers do not bode well for the Texans, nor does one element of the game that often regresses toward the mean from year to year. Houston was terrible on special teams last season, finishing dead last in DVOA while finishing well below league average on everything except punt returns. Normally, teams will make a change in their coaching staff or personnel, and that, combined with some randomness, will push a truly bad special-teams unit toward the middle of the pack. The problem, though, is that the Texans were also last in special-teams DVOA last season, at which point they fired Bob Ligashesky and hired Larry Izzo. They were 28th under Ligashesky in 2014, 29th in 2013 and last in 2012. It has been five seasons since Houston peeked out from the bottom five in the league in special teams. You would think that might inspire personnel changes but the Texans brought back kicker Nick Novak and punter Shane Lechler on one-year extensions and will return four of their six most frequent special-teams players from a year ago. None of this inspires any confidence that things will be different in 2017.

The Texans played in a putrid division last year but things are improving greatly in the AFC South. The Jaguars imported arguably the two best defensive players in free agency with Calais Campbell and A.J. Bouye, the latter of whom was Houston's top cornerback in 2016. Indianapolis hired general manager Chris Ballard and spent the offseason finally making coherent moves for its defense, although Andrew Luck's shoulder is a concern. The Titans profited from robbing the Rams last year by adding two first-round picks to their roster at positions of notable weakness. Meanwhile, the Texans weren't able to do much in free agency this offseason, thanks to their spending spree from a year ago and the $9 million in dead money they're eating on Osweiler's contract. The one downside to winning its division is that Houston will be stuck playing the Patriots and Chiefs in 2017, while the rest of their division plays lesser teams from the AFC East and West. The Texans also play in Seattle, Cincinnati, and Baltimore among others while hosting games against Pittsburgh and Arizona. That’s very likely five losses right there. They could easily go 0-5 to open the year with games against Jacksonville, New England, Cinci, Tennessee and K.C. before they play Cleveland in Week 6.

The Texans did beat the Kansas City Chiefs by seven points last season and they had another seven-point victory over the Detroit Lions. Otherwise, Houston was eking out wins against the AFC South and the likes of the Chicago Bears and Cincinnati Bengals. Meanwhile, its average loss came by 13.3 points, including a 27-point loss to the Patriots with Jacoby Brissett at quarterback on a short week. The Texans were really 8-1 in meaningful one-score games, given that they lost a meaningless Week 17 game to a Matt Cassel-led Titans team -- and even that required a late Brock Osweiler rushing touchdown to make it close. Houston's largest win of the season was over the lowly Bears in the opener by nine points. Meanwhile, it had three losses of 18 points or more. We find it hard to believe Tom Savage is likely to be better than Brock Osweiler over any stretch of time or until Deshaun Watson inevitably takes over.

Houston is one of the worst teams in the NFL that went 8-2 in one score games last year. Pay more attention to its average loss of two TD’s and three losses of 18 points or more. Frankly, we’re not expecting them to win five games, let alone nine to beat us and if you are going to make just one over/under bet this season for wins, this should be it.

Open an account today at Pinnacle Sports and take advantage of their -104 style pricing on sides and totals, which is 60% better than other sportsbooks.


Our Pick

Houston under 8 -115 (Risking 3.45 units - To Win: 3.00)

NFL Season Win Total
Oakland under 9 -120

BEST LINES Pinnacle u9½ -128 Bet365 u9½ -120 SportsInteraction u10½ -208 5DIMES u9½ -130

Posted on Sept 5

Oakland under 9½ -120 

We’re always preaching that nobody can predict the outcome of games because of in-game variance that causes so many twists and turns in almost every football game. Thus, teams that were very fortunate last year are in line for regression while teams’ that got unlucky are in line for improvement. We’ll now take that information and apply it to Oakland’s season win total to easily go under the number.

First off, the Raiders got a healthy season from its expensive offensive line with its five starters playing 74 of 80 games. Five of those missed games were from right tackle Austin Howard, who was generally considered to be the line's weakest link before being cut this season, a week before the opener. Key backup Menelik Watson is also gone, to Denver, so a less effective season from the line could cancel out any improvements from luring Marshawn Lynch out of retirement. Over/under win totals do not take injuries into consideration because they are unforeseeable but there is practically no chance of the Raiders staying as healthy as they did last year.

How many times have you heard this, “Whoever wins the turnover battle will win the game”?. Turnovers won or lost is not a skill. The Raiders were opportunistic enough to produce the league's sixth-best takeaway rate on a per-possession basis. Combined with Derek Carr chopping his interception rate in half, the Raiders' turnover differential hit plus-16, which was tied with the Chiefs for the best mark in the league. Winning the turnover battle wins games but turnover margin from year to year is markedly inconsistent. Need proof? From 1989 to 2015, there were 41 teams to post a turnover differential between plus-15 and plus-20. Their average turnover margin was plus-17.3. The following year, those teams had an average turnover differential of plus-2.3. They fell off by an average of 15 turnovers. Apply that to the Raiders last year and maybe they’re a .500 team. We say that because the Raiders, not coincidentally, were one of the best teams in close games in recent memory. Jack Del Rio's team went 8-1 in games decided by seven points or fewer. Now apply the turnover margin to that and it should come as no surprise that teams’ with that sort of record also struggle to keep it up. The Raiders have one of the 25 best records in one-score games from 1989 on. During their standout seasons, those other 24 teams were a combined 131-6-1 (.953) in one-score games. The following year, those same teams -- stocked with quarterbacks such as Aaron Rodgers, Tom Brady, Ben Roethlisberger and Steve Young -- went a combined 87-88 (.497) in games decided by seven points or fewer.

In Week’s 1, 4, 5 and 8 last year, Oakland was incredibly lucky to win. There were other week’s too in which many things had to go right but those aforementioned weeks stand out as extremely good fortune:  

In Week 1, Oakland beat the New Orleans Saints when the Raiders scored a TD with 47 seconds left to come within one point before successfully converting a two-pointer to make it 35-34. Del Rio's decision to go for two, could just as easily turned into a loss.

In Week 4, the Raiders nearly blew a 17-10 lead against the Tennessee Titans when Andre Johnson caught a game-tying touchdown pass on the 13-yard line, only to be flagged for a questionable offensive pass interference call. The Raiders held on for the win.

The next week, the Chargers were set to kick a 36-yard field goal that would have tied the game with 2:07 to go, only for holder Drew Kaser to fumble the snap.

In Week 8, the Raiders went to overtime with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Oakland committed penalties on each of its first two drives in overtime to push itself out of comfortable field goal range, turning one drive into a 52-yard miss and another into a punt. This time, the defense came up with two stops, giving the offense a third chance, which Carr turned into a touchdown. 

It's not to say the Raiders wouldn't have won any of those games otherwise, of course, but most would agree they were extremely fortunate to come away with five wins in five tries. History strongly suggests that Oakland’s luck in close games is extremely unlikely to occur again the following season. The arrival of Marshawn Lynch might help the Raiders grind out the clock in the fourth quarter, but the perfectly timed offensive pass interference penalties and failed field goals won't stick around.

The Indianapolis Colts have posted a .714 win percentage in seven-point contests (or less) since the 2012 season and the New England Patriots posted a .639 and nobody else even tops .600. That hadn't been the case for Carr before 2016. He and the Raiders were 2-5 in one-score contests in 2014 and 5-5 in 2015. For the Raiders to win 10 games, more things will have to go right this year than they did last year because Oakland’s schedule is so difficult.

Three of Oakland’s first four games will be on the road at Tennessee, Washington and Denver. They could go 0-3 in those games. Unlikely, but it’s certainly possible. The game against Washington is in prime time on Sunday night. Oakland’s schedule for the next five games is not easy either, as they’ll host games versus Baltimore, the Chargers and K.C while playing at Buffalo and Miami in back-to-back weeks. Games’ versus K.C and Miami are both prime time games too. Winning in Buffalo is rarely easy. There is not one gimme there and by the end of that stretch, the Raiders will be nine games in with a third of those being prime time affairs. Games before and after prime time events cause look-aheads and letdowns. We’re not counting on that, we’re merely pointing out that prime time games are emotionally charged and there are before and after effects, usually.

Oakland’s final seven games will be against New England, Denver, the Giants, K.C., Philly, Dallas and the Chargers. That would be zero easy games in the final seven weeks. No Cleveland, no San Fran, no Jacksonville, no Houston, no Chicago, no Detroit, no L.A. Rams or no easy games out of 16 means the Raiders will have to get a ton of lucky breaks, stay healthy and play near flawless football to get to 10 wins and we’re very confident that they won’t get there with five of their 16 games being prime timers. Under gets the call.

Open an account today at Pinnacle Sports and take advantage of their -104 style pricing on sides and totals, which is 60% better than other sportsbooks.


Our Pick

Oakland under 9 -120 (Risking 3.6 units - To Win: 3.00)

NCAA Football Season Wins
UCF under 7 -120

BEST LINES: Pinnacle u7½ -120 Bet365 N/A SportsInteraction N/A William Hill N/A

Posted on July 26

UCF under 7½

Scott Frost did a great job taking over a UCF team that was 0-12 the season prior, guiding the Knights to a bowl with six wins. Upon closer inspection, though, those six wins came versus an FCS foe that had a losing record and five FBS teams that had losing records (18-42 combined). This season, the Knights face six bowl teams from 2016 and have only four returning starters on defense. With these precepts taken into consideration, one of last season’s renaissance teams maybe be due for attrition here in 2017.

Generally, the uptick in Golden Knight victories could spawn some fanfare that perhaps this brand of UCF football could be on its way back to its pinnacle during the Blake Bortles era in which UCF would climb as high as winning a Fiesta Bowl against a top-six opponent in Baylor. However, the Knights are a long way off from achieving such feats. UCF could find itself demoralized after the first month of football, as they have not one but three difficult tests to kick-off their follow-up to 2016. First, UCF has to take all those new defensive starters to face perhaps one of the most dynamic offenses in the American Athletic Conference, the Memphis Tigers. Memphis features a gifted quarterback in Riley Ferguson and he can go off if UCF’s novice starters roll-out the red carpet for him. In addition, the Knights find themselves hosting Georgia Tech in Orlando following their Week Two collision with Memphis at home. UCF could easily be 1-2 after just Week 3 and then have to take to the road to face a touted Big 10 team in Maryland.

How Frost navigates the first month of play will tell us all we need to know about what to expect with this UCF team. However, if things go terribly wrong, a distinct possibility indeed, this outfit can find itself with its head hanging low before embarking on a tumultuous backstretch of conference play where they must take the road to face Navy, travel to the defending champions Temple, and follow it up at home with a showdown with what has been classed as a viable Group of Five New Year’s Six contender in South Florida. Another 6-6 season is not of the question here if UCF is forced to live and die by its “UCFast” offense. We know how that story goes time and time again for teams that try to win games by lighting up the scoreboard. It rarely ends well. Thus, we’ll hold our horses on UCF and strongly suggest that 7½ is a big overreaction to what they accomplished last year.

Open an account today at Pinnacle Sports and take advantage of their -104 style pricing on sides and totals, which is 60% better than other sportsbooks


Our Pick

UCF under 7 -120 (Risking 2.4 units - To Win: 2.00)

MLB Season wins
Detroit under 82 -116

BEST LINESPinnacle u82½ -116 Bet365 u83½ -130 SportsInteraction u82½ -120 WilliamHill u82½ -120

Posted on March 29 

Detroit under 82½ -115

On February 10, long time Tigers owner Mike Ilitch passed away. The Little Caesars entrepreneur left behind a large family, a robust history of business success, a smattering of important charitable works, and this Tigers team. Ilitch’s mark on the Tigers is indelible—so long after signing with the Tigers as a player back in 1952, he presided over the team’s complete inadequacy from 1992 to 2005, before bringing them back to relevance with a 2006 World Series run.

Since then, Ilitch desperately wanted to see his Tigers win a World Series and he was willing to spend big—both in cash and prospect capital—to see that dream realized. After years of doing just that without a ring, the 2017 Tigers are bringing back an aging, expensive, and top-heavy roster, a fitting tribute to their former owner. There is a great chance that we’ll look back on the 2016 Tigers and remember them as a requiem for not just a man, but an era in Tigers baseball—the last breaths of a window of serious World Series contention.

We’ll start with projections, where this franchise appears to be cruising for a disappointment to rival 2015, when they lost 87 games and wound up last in the AL Central after four straight division titles. This squad is currently projected to be around .500, which is “good” enough for third place in a depleted division. Despite carrying three or four future Hall of Famers on the projected 25-man roster, general manager Al Avila had a difficult choice between two paths this offseason: buy up more talent using the last of his assets and make one final crazy push for greatness, or sell the secondary pieces on the roster in the hopes of building something new and great a couple years down the line. Shockingly, Avila did ... nothing. He dealt away Cameron Maybin and acquired Mikie Mahtook to replace him. That’s the baseball equivalent of replacing the ugly dented side panel on your car with another, slightly newer dented side panel. (Avila also signed his son, Alex Avila, to return as the team’s backup catcher.) This Tigers’ team is stocked with high-priced, high-value players either in or past their primes, but also faced with a lack of depth and the imminent and ever-present peril faced by those in positions of power. Someday soon, one or more of these stars will dim or suffer serious injury, and the result will be even worse than the just-about-.500 team they project to be today.

There are a few pieces to like for the future in Michael Fulmer, Daniel Norris, and Nick Castellanos but those players are far outnumbered by the aging, somewhat brittle veterans. Justin Verlander and Miguel Cabrera are capable of defying time and logic and remaining elite for a few more years but what happens if one or both have average years? Relying on Ian Kinsler, Victor Martinez, and Anibal Sanchez for this upcoming season might actually be relying on them for one year too many.

The great thing about the 2017 Tigers is that if all the principals stay healthy and effective, and they get a little bit of luck from Mahtook, Norris, or the bullpen, they have the ceiling of a contender. The much more likely not-so-great thing is that the former condition is getting less and less likely by the year. A stars-and-scrubs roster is great when you don’t have to play the scrubs. If this team must replace Miguel Cabrera for a month—with, say, Andrew Romine—it’s likely that they’ll lose many more games than they win. You can count on Verlander, Cabrera and Victor Martinez to all spend some time on the DL whether it’s 15 days or 50.

There’s no dynamite prospect or set of solid young talents on the way, so the team may finally be forced to sell off assets in order to rebuild with an eye on 2020. In other words, come trade deadline, expect the Tigers to sell off everyday players, thus, making the final six weeks of the season more of an uphill battle. Nothing in baseball is certain, but it appears that this franchise is following the path of the Phillies in the National League, where committing so much toward building a window and extending it forces the team into a dark bottoming-out period. If everything goes perfect for the Tigers, they will be hard pressed to win 83 games and beat us. Over/under win totals for the season do not take injuries into consideration because it is speculation. It is for that reason, we prefer going under as oppose to over. Aside from the inevitable injuries to the guys mentioned above, one has to expect other injuries to starters, relievers or everyday players. The Detroit Tigers are not deep.

An era in baseball has ended, or will end because everything ends. In poetry, the funeral song serves two purposes: to mourn and regret the past and to hope for the future. It is of sorrow and longing and presents everything as lost and gone or absent and future.” This sounds like a fitting metaphor for a Tigers season that’s unlikely to find sufficient value in the present and will reflect the owner who was, the former peaks of their players, and the longing desire to see a contender rise again. Mike Ilitch did many things, was many things, succeeded in many things. He also wanted to build a World Series winner, but didn’t. We can howl and lament over the reality that wasn’t. Perhaps he’ll eventually see his Tigers take a championship home—if so, from a much different viewpoint—but it probably won’t be for a while, and it certainly won’t be with this aging, fragile and very average team. The 2017 Detroit Tigers will finish under .500. 

Open an account today at Pinnacle Sports and take advantage of their -104 style pricing on sides and totals, which is 60% better than other sportsbooks.


Our Pick

Detroit under 82 -116 (Risking 3.48 units - To Win: 3.00)

Sports Interaction